FOR MANY years now, Japanese auto major Suzuki has been churning out staid and stolid two-wheelers in India, without setting the market on fire despite its marquee models such as the Hayabusa, the GSX-R and the Intruder. The company did not have a single bike that carried recall value, like the Bajaj Pulsar, Hero Splendor or TVS Apache.
With an eye on addressing this, Suzuki launched a new bike last week, built specifically for India and neighbouring countries, and modelled on its iconic GSX-R, popularly known as Gixxer, giving the new bike that name. According to Suzuki, it has been designed by the same team that developed the GSX-R and is inspired by its design.
By pitching the Gixxer as its premium offering, Suzuki has a lot at stake. Does the bike live up to the challenge?
Considering that competition is from Yamaha’s brutish FZS and the suave Apache RTR, the Gixxer would need something special in the looks department. The company has played a rather conservative hand, and the Gixxer does not have the in-your-face looks of the GSXR. A bikini fairing, a simple headlight, and a lithe body is not much to write home about.
However, the front forks have a beefy look, the biggest in the category. The twin exhaust pipes add to the beefy look. The flowing curves are reminiscent of the original Gixxer. LED tail lamps and a digital speedo cluster seem a straight lift from the GSX-R (with a gear indicator). The only sore spot is the front disk-brake housing, coloured a pallid gold. Black would have gone better with the overall look.
Gixxer is powered by a 155cc single cylinder engine that is impressive on paper. It generates nearly 15 PS of power, close to the Apache RTR 160, and a class-leading 14 Nm torque. The bike’s test ride was multi-terrained-- urban, highway, hills and some broken roads-- on a monsoon day in Pune. These are not ideal driving conditions.
Having said that, the bike acquitted itself fairly well. The engine is refined and relatively vibration - free. On uphill sections, it felt underpowered and did not manage to hit the claimed topspeed of 110 kmph. The bike promises a class-leading mileage of 65 kmpl in ideal conditions, which means it gasps when pressed hard, even without a pillion rider. Potholes, trafiic, and speed-breakers did not pose problems. Not for nothing are the front forks beefy as they absorb almost everything. The wide handles make negotiating traffic easier and long rides a breeze.
Some of the fittings leave a little to be desired. The horn is squeaky. The rear brake is only drum and there is no disk variant. The mirrors seem from a segment below rather than above.
Should you be buy the Gixxer? It has many things in its favour, sucha as mileage and price. The Gixxer has enough going for it to warrant a serious look. However, if you are a hard-core performance enthusiast, you may feel deprived.